Cardinal coaches and players would tell you that they’re not out of the NFC West race in 2017, and that Sunday’s home game against Los Angeles is the first step in a comeback-division title. But let’s be realistic – the 5-6 Cards are playing for a Wild Card shot, and might be lucky to still have that.
A pair of big personnel moves have defined Arizona’s season so far. The franchise acquired veteran RB Adrian Peterson in Week 6, and the former Vikings star ran through the Buccaneers in a 38-33 victory. Later, HC Bruce Arians figured out that the Cardinals were facing a dead-end with aging, immobile passers like Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton at QB (it only took him about 50 years) and installed Blaine Gabbert instead. Gabbert surprised pundits by steering the Gridbirds to a 27-24 win over Jacksonville last week.
Still, the Cards are inconsistent in all 3 phases of the game. That’s a major concern with the 8-3 Los Angeles Rams visiting the Big Toaster this Sunday afternoon.
Who: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
When: Sunday, December 3rd, 4:25 PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Lines: L.A. (-7) at Arizona (+7) / O/U Total: (45)
Last time these teams met (in London in October) the Rams totally out-classed the Cardinals 33-0. While a lopsided result in Europe can always be blamed on jet lag and lost focus, both teams played under the same circumstances.
L.A. has been out-coaching opponents. Sean McVay might be the youngest HC in the league, but he’s also one of the most effective. McVay has turned Jared Goff into a reliable QB (18-to-5 TD to INT ratio), revitalized Todd Gurley (on his way to well over 1000 yards in ’17) and turned the Ram defense into an excellent Red Zone unit that gives up less than 20 points per game.
The Cardinals still have the bookends to compete with top tops in the NFC. Larry Fitzgerald is a timeless weapon, and the Honey Badger is healthy. But they’re not as healthy as a team as the Rams are going into this one, and that could be the death blow. Peterson isn’t able to go 100% every week anymore, and is currently banged-up headed into Sunday. Deone Buchanon, the team’s do-it-all inside LB/safety, is also missing.
Despite making a 57-yarder to beat Jacksonville last week, Phil Dawson is one of the least accurate PK’s in the league in 2017. Arians is impetuous in replacing kickers, and it didn’t pay off this time.
We’re liking the L.A. Rams to continue to assert their dominance in this series. They’re a better all-around team with a younger star RB, and a more-physical defense.
Take the Rams to cover (-7) points.